My first encounter with UK-band Black Roots was in a record store about ten years ago. The store had the original vinyl press of their album In Session up on the wall and I asked the clerk if I could have a listen.
I enjoyed the album, but since it was expensive I didn’t buy it and thought that I could spend my money on other records instead. About a week flew by and I regretted that I had neglected the album. I went back to the store, but the album had been sold and I haven’t seen an original vinyl press of that album since.
Luckily enough French label Makasound decided to reissue that particular album as well as an compilation with Black Roots’ material entitled On the Frontline a while ago.
Now another compilation dedicated to one of the – if not the – best reggae acts from the UK has been put out. This time by Bristol Archive Records in collaboration with Nubian Records – Black Roots’ own label.
Black Roots – The Reggae Singles Anthology assembles 16 well-mastered tracks spanning from the early 80’s up until 1988, when they were working with Mad Professor.
It includes all of their key early singles, their first EP in its entirety, the three track follow up, the original single mix of The Frontline from the BBC series of the same name and five tracks from later releases, such as singles from albums put out in 1987 and 1988.
Those five tracks are actually what make this album musically different from the Makasound releases. So the key question is – are the five tracks worth having?
The answer is yes. But, they are more pop oriented than the other material. And they sound a bit more dated.
A 16 page booklet full of previously unpublished photos of the band comes with the album. The initial run of CDs also has an added bonus – a DVD issue of the hard to find live show Celebration from 1986 with Vin Gordon on trombone. This show was recorded at the Bristol Studio and was previously only available on the original self-financed video cassette issue.
If you don’t already own the Makasound albums or other Black Roots material you should definitely head over to your local record store. Otherwise this album makes a great complement, especially if you’re early and receives the DVD.
Black Roots – The Reggae Singles Anthology comes as a limited edition double vinyl, CD and digital download.